"It gave me a sort of home feeling when I found myself, for the first time in two years, seated in the pleasant parlour of Ratho, the home of a most amiable and accomplished Edinburgh family. The social tea table presided over by one of the most graceful and elegant of old ladies; the books, the music, the flowers - and the gentle conversation, could not fail to soften an exasperated soul in any but its darkest hour."
And so I found myself sitting in that very parlour, on a soft embroidered bench by the hearth, my back warmed by a blazing open fire, reading about the history of this Georgian farmhouse, Ratho, in Tasmania's highlands, when I stumbled upon those above words penned by exiled Irish activist John Mitchel some 150 years ago. The parlour still has a home feeling did soften my exasperated, (well, tired anyway) soul.
After a long drive, I'd arrived here early for a work event, and as I waited for my colleagues to arrive I had the cosy parlour to myself, where I read books and clippings of the home's history whilst sipping a robust tea. I find that stuff so fascinating, Tasmanian history, old farmhouses, add an exiled Irish activist or two and the world's oldest golf course outside of Scotland and I'll quite happily lose myself in 1853 for hours.
After a night of feasting, celebrating and a smoky whiskey or two, I headed to the most comfortable and warm converted stable for a cosy night in the softest of beds. Then up early for a walk through misty paddocks, a nosy peak in some of the old sheds filled with rustic, dusty treasures, before heading to the charming breakfast room with a long table set for a hearty breakfast of porridge, toast and marmalade. The perfect start to a day that would finish late with some Dark Mofo feasting.
More and more I find myself dreaming of spending time in an old Georgian farmhouse, with such a parlour and a generous kitchen to cook in. My mind reeling with ideas on how I can make that happen. But for now, there are books, music and flowers in my lounge room, (which I am thinking of renaming the parlour), and thoughts of creating a social tea table to share with friends filled with gentle conversation.